Anchovies

Last updated: July 6, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

November 12th is celebrated as National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day



Anchovies Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Actinopterygii
Order
Clupeiformes
Family
Engraulidae

Anchovies Conservation Status

Anchovies Locations

Anchovies Locations

Anchovies Facts

Prey
Recently hatched fish and planktons
Group Behavior
  • School
Fun Fact
November 12th is celebrated as National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day
Estimated Population Size
20,700 metric tons
Biggest Threat
Halibut, salmon, sharks, bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, and other fishes
Most Distinctive Feature
Protruding upper jaw that extends to behind their eyes
Water Type
  • Brackish
Habitat
Salt waters and brackish waters, as well as in temperate waters
Predators
Humans, halibut, salmon, sharks, bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, and other fishes
Diet
Omnivore
Favorite Food
Recently hatched fish and planktons
Type
Fish
Number Of Species
144

Anchovies Physical Characteristics

Colour
  • Green
Skin Type
Scales
Lifespan
4 years
Weight
A few ounces
Length
5 to 6 inches, 10 inches at the maximum

Anchovies Images

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Anchovies are small green forage fishes. These fishes are very common and high in nutrition and belong to the family Engraulidae.

There are more than 100 species of anchovies – most of which are found in marine waters. However, some of these small fishes are also found in brackish waters. While some others can also exist in the fresh waters of South America.

Anchovies are fish that are mostly distinguished by their large mouths. Their upper jaw extends behind their eyes. Besides that, a long, pig-like snout extends beyond the tips of their lower jaws.

Incredible Anchovies Facts!

  • These fishes are easier to catch on a full moon night since their bodies glisten under the moonlight. They are canned and salted right after and sometimes dried for eating purposes.
  • Anchovies are fish that can concentrate an acid making them poisonous for humans to consume as a whole.
  • Crab paste is known to be the best bait for catching these fishes.
  • November 12th is celebrated as National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day.
  • The freshest anchovies have black irises instead of reddish ones. They are also often confused with Sardines that have white flesh.

Anchovies Classification and Scientific Name

Anchovies are fish that belong to the kingdom Animalia and phylum Chordata. Their class is Actinopterygii and they come from order Clupeiformes. These small fishes belong to the family Engraulidae. They also go by the scientific name Engraulidae. However, different anchovy species have different scientific names to go by.

Engraulidae comes from the Greek word Engraulis, which means anchovy. However, the name possibly comes from the word γρυλίζω, meaning “to grumble.”

Anchovies Species

As per sources, there are 144 different species around the world. These different species are distributed into 17 genres. The majority of these species differentiate as the result of the location that they are found in, though there are a few ways that they distinguish themselves.

Some of the common species include:

  • European anchovy: These anchovies are one of the most common species to consume, and they are predominantly located in the Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea. They often have a silver underbelly, spawning through the spring and summer months.
  • Peruvian anchoveta: This species is often found in the southeast Pacific Ocean, and it is harvested by the ton.
  • Indian anchovy: The Indian anchovy also goes by the name Hardenberg’s anchovy. It can be used as either live bait or as dead bait.
  • Northern anchovy: Not to be mistaken for the European anchovy, this species is typically found in two separate parts of the United States, spanning across Oregon, Washington, and California.

Anchovies vs. Sardines

Anchovies, as a result of curing, often have dark, reddish-grey flesh while Sardines have white flesh. Sardines have a slightly protruding lower jaw while the upper jaw of Anchovies extends till behind their eyes.

Comparatively, sardines are about two inches longer than anchovies, though they are still incredibly similar.

The main way that these two types of fish differ is in their taste. While anchovies tend to make any dish saltier. However, for individuals that want a meatier taste that is a little more mellow and subdued, then sardines may be the right choice.

Sardines belong to the Clupeidae family while anchovies belong to the Engraulidae family.

Anchovies Appearance

These are small green fishes. They are slender and streamlined and resemble herrings a lot. Usually, they are categorized by large mouths.

Their upper jaws extend behind their eyes and a pointed pig-like snout extends beyond the lower jaw. They have a straight lateral line.

These fishes have large scales that can be easily detached. An adult fish is about 5 to 6 inches in size. Even the heaviest of these fishes do not weigh more than a few ounces.

School of anchovies in the Atlantic Ocean

Anchovies Distribution, Population, and Habitat

These fish are found in several oceans around the world. They live in scattered spots throughout these oceans. However, they are mostly concentrated in temperate waters.

They are very rare or are completely absent in areas with extreme temperatures. That is why it is difficult to find them in very cold or very warm waters. The European species is especially abundant in the Black Sea, Alboran Sea, and the Aegean Sea.

These fish are usually found in saltwater. However, some of them can also exist in brackish waters. They are pelagic meaning that they thrive best in open oceans. In brackish waters, they exist in estuaries and bays.

According to a study, as of 2015, the estimated population is 20,700 metric tons.

Anchovies Predators and Prey

These fish, especially the bay anchovies have bluefish, striped bass, and weakfish as predators. Apart from that, seabirds also feed on them, including the bay anchovy. Other predators of these fish include sharks, salmon, halibut, and other fishes. They in turn eat recently hatched fish as well as plankton.

What Eats Anchovies?

The common predators of these fish include halibut, salmon, sharks, bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, and other fishes.

What Do Anchovies Eat?

These fish feed majorly on planktons as well as recently hatched fish.

Anchovies Reproduction and Lifespan

Much like herring, the fish reproduce by spawning. Males and females gather in large groups and release their eggs and sperm into the water.

The sperms are known to fertilize the eggs outside the bodies of the fish. The eggs, once fertilized, float in water columns until they hatch.

The gestation period and the time that it usually takes for the babies to reach sexual maturity varies from species to species. They rarely live after 4 years of age.

Anchovies in Fishing and Cooking

Most of these fish are caught by Deepwater trawlers. Once caught, most of these fishes are canned and salted. After, they are turned into a paste which is later used to make sauces. Crab paste is a common bait used to bring anchovies to the surface.

Further, they are considered to be a magic ingredient in dishes. They have a savory and briny flavor. Usually, they are stir-fried in tomato sauce or shallow fried in olive oil.

People also love these small fishes as toppings on their pizza or butter them up in their toast as an easy snack idea. They are sometimes dried for eating purposes. Dried fish also make great snacks.

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Anchovies FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where are anchovies found?

Anchovies are found in different oceans around the world. They live in scattered spots throughout these oceans. However, they are mostly concentrated in temperate waters.

What are anchovies?

Anchovies are small forage fishes. These fishes are very common and belong to the family Engraulidae. There are 144 different species of anchovies.

What's the difference between anchovies and sardines?

Anchovies have dark, reddish-grey flesh while Sardines have white flesh. Sardines have a slightly protruding lower jaw while the upper jaw of Anchovies extends till behind their eyes.

What do anchovies taste like?

These small fishes have a rich, savory, and briny flavor and are savored in several parts of the world.

Can you eat anchovies raw?

If the quality is right, yes you can eat them right from the canned condition that they are usually put in. These small fishes are high in nutrition.

Are anchovies good for you?

Yes, anchovies offer immense nutrition to lower levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood. It is also a very good source of protein.

Are Anchovies herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Anchovies are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals.

What Kingdom do Anchovies belong to?

Anchovies belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

How do Anchovies have babies?

Anchovies lay eggs.

Sources
  1. New World Encyclopedia, Available here: https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Anchovy
  2. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchovy
  3. Mobile cuisine, Available here: https://mobile-cuisine.com/did-you-know/anchovy-fun-facts/
  4. Food and Wine, Available here: https://www.foodandwine.com/seafood/fish/difference-between-sardines-and-anchovies
  5. Nature Gate, Available here: https://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kalat/anchovy
  6. Animals, Available here: https://animals.net/anchovy/
  7. The Spruce Eats, Available here: https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-are-anchovies-1806993

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